Topping D30 vs Schiit: Which Is The Best Inexpensive DAC?

On your day-to-day music sessions, you might face some apparent noise or distortions in the sound. This is possible if the existing in-built DAC of your device is the limiting factor here. 

In this case, you might need an external DAC for a convenient upgrade. 

But we understand it can be difficult for the occasional listeners and growing audiophiles to decide on the best bang-for-buck DAC. Especially if one is attempting to equalize the scales between aesthetics and performance.

So, which one will you pick between Topping D30 vs Schiit?

Both Topping D30 and Schiit Modi models are made of aluminum with a brushed finish. But Topping D30 has all the switches in the front unlike Modi 3. Also, Modi 3 doesn’t support native DSD replay like Topping D30. The maximum output voltage of Topping D30 is 2.1V RMS and Modi 3 outputs 2volts per kHz.

Don’t be afraid of all the technical jargon already. We are going to walk you through a detailed head-to-head battle in the following sections. 

But before jumping into the main discussion we just want to clarify why we choose to compare only schiit modi 3 with topping d30.

Schiit Modi 2 is a bit outdated that’s why we’re not going to compare Schiit modi 2 vs Topping D30. On the other hand, as the topping d30 is a desktop DAC, we’re not comparing Topping d30 vs Schiit fulla or Topping d30 vs Schiit hel. Because these are gaming DACs by Schiit. 

Furthermore, Schiit modius, bifrost, Gungnir, Yggdrasil are way beyond the price range ($120) that we’re targeting here.

Now, let’s move ahead together to look into the depth of this matter!

Quick Comparison

Numerous aspects are relying on which your preference for these two DACs can differ. That’s why here is a quick comparison of the basic details given for your better understanding. So that you can easily find out if the DACs are useful or not.

Have a look-

Features Topping D30Schiit Modi 3
Connector TypeDigital input: USB + S/PDIF (Optical) + S/PDIF (RCA)
Analog output: 1 x RCA (L & R) 
Coaxial SPDIF, Toslink SPDIF, and USB inputs, and single-ended RCA output.
ChipsetCirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chipAK4490 DAC chip
Input RangeUSB: 16-24 bit/44.1-192 kHz, DSD64, DSD128, Optical: 16-24 bit/32-192 kHz, Coaxial: 16-24 bit/32-192 kHz 16-bit/44.1kHz up to 24-bit/192kHz (on all three inputs)
Maximum Output2.1 Vrms at 1 kHz2.0 Vrms at 1 kHz
Frequency Response10 Hz-20 kHz ±0.03 dB20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.25dB
Dimensions 7” x 4.8” x 1.5”7.87″ x 5.98″ x 4.61″
DriversLinux Driverless
THD (Total Harmonic distortion)Optical: 0.00063%
Coaxial: 0.00065%
at max output 
<0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output

Don’t worry if this brief comparison seems gibberish to you because we’ll go into the details in the next section. 

Let’s go along!

Head to Head Comparison


If you’re choosing one between 8 Ohm speakers and 70v, you can also get an external DAC with it to get the most out of your digital music.

However, there are some features you should look out for before choosing a DAC. Here, we’re going to discuss Topping d30 vs Schiit modi through a head-to-head battle. Let’s move ahead!

Build Quality

If you’re particularly considering between Topping D30 and Schiit Modi 3, then we would say both of them are entry-level DACs, besides a good R2R DAC. As they are about a price point of around 100 or 120 dollars each. As a result, these two have quite similar form factors.

So, which DAC has the best dac chip in Topping D30 vs Schiit Modi 3?

The Topping D30 uses the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip, whereas, Schiit Modi 3 has the advanced dac chip. But unlike Schiit Modi 3, Topping D30 offers Linux drivers with their DAC.


Schiit and Topping has gained a lot of their popularity thanks to the efforts they put behind their design.

Let’s first see the design of the Topping D30 DAC. It’s made of aluminum with a brushed finish throughout the main body and faceplate. The chassis is held together by flush rivets on the front and back

Moreover, they are rounded out by some laser engraved text. There are also four rubber pads under the surface that support keeping it on a table.

Besides its miniature length and width ( 7” x 4.8” x 1.5”) lets you set it on your workstation with a tiny amp. Perhaps twinning it up with the Topping A30 amplifier. Overall, it feels solid and premium to hold in hand.

On the contrary, the build quality of Schiit Modi 3 is quite similar to the former USB-only Schiit Modi 2 setup, arriving at a similar $99 price point. 

Surprisingly these are the same options that were previously stored for the more costly Schiit Modi 2 Uber. Not only this, Modi 3 came up with an updated power supply structure as well.

According to Schiit Modi 3 review, on the surface, it seems tidy to users. Like Topping D30 DAC, Modi is also built of aluminum. Also, it rocks the silver brushed look with a stylish curve. Modi’s dimensions are 5×3.5×1.5 inches. Hence, like d30 it also doesn’t take much space.

It’s relatively unique to maximum rectangular DAC models with a sturdy cover sheet. This Schiit DAC model is quite bulky in hand compared to Topping D30.

Nonetheless, both of the DAC’s aced the design from their perspective field.

Winner: Tie

Connectors and Switches 

The connectors of d30 are on the back. These are gold-plated and they stay firm in place which is great and they also hold cables quite snug.

Of course, the metal switches on the front can’t go unnoticed because they are quite satisfying to flip and select power and source. 


In the front, the topping d30 has an on-and-off switch to start with, then an input selector switch. Next, a LED power indicator that shines blue. Lastly, there’s an LED status indicator that shines red if the DAC is disconnected.

On the rear, there are two RCA out which connect to the amp. Also, there are three input options for plugging your DAC into your device. These are- 

However, Schiit Audio Modi 3 design currently incorporates the s/pdif, coax, and Toslink inputs like topping d30. Also, here you have your DC power input which luckily has a much smaller adapter compared to the Topping A30 adapter


Besides, all switches and connections are placed on the rear unlike D30 and people tend to prefer the ports and switches in the front. 

The additional USB connector is helpful for an outer 5v power supply. This will be required in case you’re listening to a song through optical or coaxial and Modi 3 isn’t bound to the desktop.  

In the front, there’s only one switch to select the input. Followed by a sharp white LED to suggest that the gadget is powered. Also, there isn’t any power switch like the Topping D30 which creates a bit of an issue. 

So the Modi 3 will go on until the power is attached. Therefore, the only issue is that perhaps the LED is a little too glossy and stays on even when the PC is shut off.

Winner: Topping d30


The required power cables for the Topping D30 are provided with the stack. Also, a USB to USB cable comes with it that allows you to pair the DAC with your computer. It kinda works fine but we found it a bit flimsy. So you can upgrade your USB cable to a Monoprice one.

Here are some Monoprice USB cable recommendations for you-

Now, as for interconnects, you must buy your own cable. Although a tight 20cm pair of RCA interconnects could be a valuable addition. However, any RCA to RCA cable will work but we will recommend the Oldboy Tech two short braided RCA cable for your convenience.  

Now, with the modi 3, you can use the micro-USB cable that comes with it to attach straight to the pc. Mostly, it can grab both power and data over a similar cable. Moreover, we found it more durable than the d30’s one.

Besides, any micro-USB cable from, for example, an abandoned phone charger will function in a bit. You’ll be able to connect both the USB data and the USB power ports. Then you can just run RCA cables from the Modi to your Magni. Hence, the USB connection here is more compatible than the topping d30’s one.

Winner: Schiit Modi 3

Features and Performance

The most important things that matter while choosing a DAC are its performance based on its features. So let’s find out the performance between Topping D30 vs Schiit Modi 3, which is a 3rd gen addition.

What Kind of Chipset Does it Use?

For its value, the D30 reserves some punch. Its DSD authorization is over DSD128 with DoP (DSD over PCM), where PCM is supported over 24-bit/192kHz. 

All this authorization is filtered by the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip that however is slightly outdated as it was introduced around 2010.

On the other hand, Schiit Modi 3 is processed by the Asahi Kasei Microdevices AK4490 DAC chip. Its configuration is nothing out of the ordinary

For instance, there isn’t any DSD backing and PCM is maintained to a 24 bit / 192 kHz most. In this small fella’s justification, that fills in how we actually devour a large part of our music.

But if we compare this chipset with the d30’s CS4398, then the AK4490 is less forgiving and more musical. Whereas cirrus logic presents a more comfortable and detailed sound.

Winner: Schiit modi 3

What’s the Input and Output Range?

According to the topping d30 manual its USB, coaxial and optical inputs with the rate of-

  • USB: 16-24 bit/44.1-192 kHz, DSD64, DSD128
  • Optical: 16-24 bit/32-192 kHz
  • Coaxial: 16-24 bit/32-192 kHz

The primary output voltage swing of the d30 is 2.1 Vrms at 1 kHz.

On the other hand, Modi 3 receives almost any input you can shoot at it! You can choose various inputs by trying the on/off switch handily placed on the front.

Now, what’s the output voltage of Modi 3?

Schiit has changed the output voltage. So currently it’s the full 2 volts compared to 1.5 in former DACs. Also, the output impedance of Schiit Modi 3 is 75 ohms. Total harmonic distortion is <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at maximum output. Schiit says this is facilitated by the extension of an outer switching power supply. 

On the other hand, the output impedance of d30 is almost 40 ohms. The less the output impedance the better it is for the DAC 

Winner: Topping d30

What Drivers is it Supported by?

Speaking of drivers, the Topping D30 is operated by Linux right out of the packet. Also, there isn’t any task assigned for the user’s part to get this to work.

You can assess it under Linux Mint 18.1 with Linux kernel 4.10. However, windows don’t acknowledge the gadget and need drivers to be launched. This can create some sort of issue from the window’s end.

On the other hand, the Modi is based on a USB audio class 2 input with a C-Media CM663 chip. So it can function with 24-bit and 96 kHz files containing 88.2 kHz files. 

Also, this chip could function up to 192 kHz. natively. However, it’s been fixed to enable driverless systems on any pc. For instance, macOS, Windows 10, and Linux (Creator’s Edition and later).

But here’s a catch, if a modern edition of Windows gets out and it augments USB Audio Class 2 support, your DAC will turn on to function again. However, since USB 3 and 3.1 are here, we’re kind of convinced that they’re looking at a USB Audio Class 3 spec for the higher speeds. So, MS might want to carry out that instead. With any chance, it might be reversed compatible.

Nonetheless, the USB DAC being driverless says that it’s ‘Plug & Play’. Therefore, connect the cue in, Windows will search it and be able to identify what it is. Then it will set the DAC up for use by the system and as an available sound card. 

As the whole process is automatic and hustle-free, we’re preferring modi 3 here over d30.

Winner: Schiit modi 3.

Is there any Wireless Connection?

No, there’s not actually any Bluetooth connection in both the Topping D30 and Schiit Modi 3. 

In this case, you’ll have to attach some Bluetooth dongle to it. So here are some recommendations for you.

Later, the dongle will output the audio signal through a Coaxial or S/PDIF (optical connection). 

Winner: None

How’s the Frequency Response?

The frequency response of Topping D30 is 10-20 kHz ± 0.03 dB.

First, let’s have a look at the USB input frequency response of D30:


Here; the ruler flat responds well beyond audibility.

Next, the distortion measurement (THD and noise) vs. frequency:


Much of this is defined by Topping’s inner distortion. Although there appears to be a small added clatter, that’s more than possibly inaudible.

Now, let’s see Schiit Modi 3 USB input:

While the nearly 2-volt output is very pleasing, there are some squirts of specious tones in the FFT range in the top right. 

However, if you deliver it a -90 dB signal, it’ll generate stepped feedback. It happens when it restores 24-bit copies to 16 bits.

Nonetheless, if you try it in Roon instead of the ASIO4ALL wrapper you’ll notice the same problem but suddenly it snaps back to 24-bit and stays there.

However, when we went back to trying ASIO4ALL, we noticed the issue again. So it’s an unusual incompatibility with the ASIO4ALL. 

In short, this suggests that the Modi 3’s SINAD action through USB is similar to the Topping D30 (106 dB), which is outstanding.

Winner: Tie

How’s the Sound Quality?

The soundage performance and resolution matter a lot when it comes to audio gadgets. So let’s find out how these two DACs perform in this sector and which one bests the other.


As a reasonable desktop DAC, the topping d30 is good enough. It can create an authentic articulation of the music and also doesn’t imply its own tone excessively. Simultaneously, there isn’t anything that can be highlighted specifically from its output.

On the other hand, modi 3 doesn’t lose its transparency and neat precision for density. Rather there are more upswings and transparency than d30 in bigger files rendering very clear sound. Also, it can imply the tone of cymbals with incredible accuracy and disclose tonnes of small atmospheric elements from the tape.

Winner: Schiit modi 3


The bass of Topping d30 has extraordinary restraint and accuracy, with no amplified colour. There’s no added heat to the song when heard on the HiFiMAN RE400, whose lows are nearly lacking. Also, there are no substantial differences in the bass and treble. However, it feels a bit softer when delivering bass notes compared to modi 3.

Modi 3 gives a ton of knowledge, ends, and texture of the bass notes. When it reaches the mid-range, it’s a cracker! There’s a ton of information to be listened to, moreover, there’s a consistency to the rhythm that is so frequently unnoticed in the d30. 

Winner: Schiit Modi 3


The D30’s smoothness and velvety finish were rewarded big time. Also, everything placed in the midrange area felt a bit more substantial and raw. Besides, it does match AKM-based DACs like modi 3 and well-made R2R designs a little. 

However, we didn’t notice any flimsy and excessively rigid sound in Modi 3. It has that mid-range beverage and consistency to render songs and tools sound as realistic and existing.

So we can conclude when it comes to the midrange both of the DAC’s play a similar role.

Winner: Tie

Soundstage and Resolution

The d30 can almost be called a forgiving sounding unit. Largely because it needs that fake treble buzz that can devastate your rock music assortment. It doesn’t add brightness, edge, or an enormous composure in the upper treble. You get elements, clarity, a heavy tonality, but you won’t get horrible brightness.

The soundstage of d30 appears to be adequately broad and intense. It doesn’t harshly present the instruments. While instrument isolation is at least as good as modi 3.

In short, the sound in modi 3 is defined by the rapid and detailed bass, wide tone, and a lot of elements.

Moreover, the sound-stage is relatively broader than d30 while the thickness is just sufficient. We would say it’s not any better or worse compared to the d30. 

Winner: Tie


The more the DACs are compatible with other devices and systems the more they’ll be easy to handle and you’ll be able to fully leverage them. 

Let’s find out how compatible the Topping D30 and Schiit Modi 3 are with other operating systems.

How Does it Work with Different Headphones?

The Topping D30 and A30 amp combo function nicely with Sennheiser 598. However, it sounds finer with AKG K712 with amazing bass control which is packed with a lot of punch. Moreover, it doesn’t influence the mid ranges, instead, it binds with them where the “stem” isn’t noticeable.

Moreover, d30 with Benchmark HPA4 can drive various high-end planar-magnetic and a ton of energetic headphones

Also, d30 pairs better with IEMs like Moondrop Starfield than bass-packed IEMs like Fiio fh3. But DAC’s like modi 3 performs well with fh3.

Furthermore, the steadiness of Modi 3 supports restraining the little harsh high-end if it’s paired with Magni 3. Besides, you can test it with the following high-end headphones- 

Ultimately, modi 3 transpires a realistic, highly-resolving, and incredibly energetic sound exposition in the aforementioned headphones.

However, it seems the Modi 3 is more lasting than d30 with high-end headphones or iem. 

Winner: Modi 3

Is it Raspberry Pi Compatible?

We’ve found the Raspberry Pi 2 and a Schiit Modi 3 deliver better playback for 16/44 and 24/96 files. Moreover, we didn’t face any problems at the start, also no updates or modifications were required. It was simply a plug-and-play setup, and you just need to set the Modi in Standard Mode using the button on the rear.

Furthermore, maximum streamers, from Raspberry Pi-based models on up, authorize UAC2 and will connect straight into the Schiit DACs and function instinctively. All you’ll require is a USB cord, which differs according to the USB ports on your streamer and your DAC. So make sure you review your ports before buying!

The different USB versions are:

Similarly, you can simply connect the 2 USB cords (stocked) from the Raspberry Pi USB2 ports to your Topping D30 keeping it in default settings.

The network diagram would be as followed-

However, the clicks and pop with d30 is more occasional per song compared to modi 3. If you connect a Pi 4 running picoreplayer into a Topping D30 USB interface, you’ll notice it sounds okay-ish. But there are clicks when changing sample rates, for example, 16/44.1 file followed by 24/96. 

Winner: Modi 3

What Types of Files Does it Convert?

Through foobar2000 and JRiver Media Center, the D30 played every supported file format as planned, exactly as it performed with Tidal and Spotify. 

Although we have occasionally noticed pop taking place in the D30. Particularly when the Foobar2000 is fixed for WASAPI with 24-bit output and the song is played. 

In this case, to fix the problem, shut the program first. Then, start VLC, a DS application, and play a video. It pops when the sound starts. However, it can be solved by setting Foobar for 32-bit output and DS for 48k/32bit on the windows 10 sound properties page.

Contrarily, Modi 3 is a relatively modest DAC and it supports PCM only-replay through any of three, manually shuffled, inputs – specifically USB. Then through TOSLINK and RCA S/PDIF connections, along with a set of alternatives for powering it up. 

Format support is for PCM bit-depths/sample rates from the CD standard of 16-bit/44.1kHz up to 24-bit/192kHz on all three inputs. While some d30 has issues in TOSLINK inputs up to 24-bit/96kHz. 

However, there isn’t any native DSD support for Modi 3 . So you’ll be required to restore to PCM on the fly in your device or source.

Overall, we can say that d30’s DSD and Modi’s PCM storage ain’t much different than each other.

Winner: Tie 

So, Which One Seems to Fit your Demands?

It’s considerably acknowledged that every person is free to make their own judgment. This is particularly a fact if we’re discussing the choices and preferences of someone about gadgets. 

One might like indifferent, clean gear, but you might not. So while choosing a DAC for yourself kindly ponder on this point!

We suggest you go for Topping D30 pro as an Topping D30 upgrade.

However, here is a quick suggestion box to help you with your decision. Have a look-

So far, in this writing, we discussed the build quality, specifications, and performance of the Topping D30 and Schiit Modi 3.


Does Schiit Modi require power?

You wouldn’t require power input in case you’re operating your Modi 3+ as a USB-only DAC. In this case, only attach it to your desktop with the added USB Micro cable it comes with and you’re good to go. 

How good is Topping D30 in Classe or Jeff Rowland setup?

If you can use the Topping D30 in a Classe and Jeff Rowland set up with a topping p50 power supply connected, it’ll perform way beyond its price range. Never sharp but refined in the treble range, a little warm in the bass as well.

Final Words

This is all we had on Topping D30 vs Schiit. 

Choose your DAC based on ease of use and the sound it outputs. However, a DAC performs well after it “burns in” or you use it for a while. It wouldn’t take longer than probably 30 minutes at best. 

Enjoy your music!


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